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Game Review

Slow Start Dooms Avalanche in 3-1 loss to Vegas

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David Zalubowski/AP

Well, you know what they say: “First game back after a long road trip is always a tough one.” It’s one of the more ridiculous-sounding cliches in hockey, but darned if it doesn’t seem to come true a lot. The Colorado Avalanche should have had no problem getting motivated for Tuesday’s game at home against the Vegas Golden Knights. This was the team that bounced them from the second round of the playoffs last spring, a team that overcame a 2-0 deficit to broom them from there.

The Avs had a day off, after a nice win in Tampa, so there could be no fatigue excuse for anything here. Yet, the Avs came out in the first period as if they had Ambien laced in their water bottles, falling behind 2-0 in the first period and only managing a Cale Makar goal from there. Final score: Vegas 3, Colorado 1.

Vegas snapped a four-game losing streak, and the Avs suffered their fourth defeat of the season, against two victories. The Avs next play in St. Louis Thursday against the 5-0 Blues.

“We were a little bit sluggish tonight. We weren’t trying to be. You never want to give up one on the power play like that. It just…shouldn’t happen,” Avs captain Gabe Landeskog said.

Indeed, the backbreaker in this game came on a short-handed Vegas goal that made it 2-0 in the first period. J.T. Compher and Makar botched a pass together, and Reilly Smith beat Darcy Kuemper on a breakaway.

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The Golden Knights basically played rope-a-dope defensive hockey the rest of the way, and did job of it. While the Avs controlled the puck a lot more in the final two periods, they were mostly kept to the perimeter and Robin Lehner made the big save or two when he really needed it.

“Terrible start. We weren’t prepared to start on time,” Avs coach Bednar said. “You dig yourself a hole against a good team, you spend the rest of the night trying to scratch and claw back.”

Another turning point in the game: A five-minute major interference penalty called on Jack Johnson late in the second period. While the Avs held Vegas off the board on the ensuing long power play, the five lost minutes were an impediment to the Avs getting back in the game.

“They give him five minutes, for in-game interference….looked like it was as clean a hit as you can get,” Landeskog said. “Other than that, I have no comment.”

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Adrian Dater - Kiss and Larry Bird fan. Writer with @Gambling and @Bookies, Avs Insider with 104.3 The Fan. Denver Post, SI, Bleacher Report alum, author of seven books.

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Karl Keen

Been watching Avs since inaugural year. This team is as soft as warm butter. No chance. A bunch of figure skaters playing hockey

Aaron Hinton

Completely agree, Karl. I think it’s Bednar. There is definitely a disconnect somewhere.

Spencer Bradshaw

What do you expect? J Johnson throws a hit and gets a major for it.

troian

Agree and have long commented team is soft and roster poorly-constructed – do not agree that it is necessarily Bednar, but rather fault lies squarely at the feed of the GM.

Brian Levesque

These sluggish and slow starts are becoming commonplace for this team, you want to light a fire under their butts then hire John Tortorella he will hold them accountable and he isn’t afraid of sitting someone to send a message plus his post gamers are nothing short of entertaining

Rich

I don’t disagree with a head coaching change but not Torts there has to be a better choice?

Brian Levesque

He has won everywhere he has coached and he has won a Stanley Cup

dk

Sure. Hire Torts if you want to see 1/2 of the top two lines benched for 90% of every game. His coaching style comes nowhere close to how this team is built. I know you say he’s won with every team and a cup and blah blah…but he struggles coaching teams that have been built with speed and scoring in mind.

But my prediction (if this trend continues) is Bednar gets pink slipped before T Day…

Richard Trujillo

Might be time to move on from Sakic. He refused to address this team’s shortcomings three years ago when they had cap room and no big contracts for their “core”. Now he has paid way too much for Rantanen and has no wiggle room to make a splash in free agency to get this team over the hump. Sakic has wasted another core group just like the Duchene, Stastny, O’Reilly, Barrie group.

Brian Levesque

Lol that group was never winning anything

troian

See above – I agree – it’s Sakic not Bednar … poor roster construction … coaching change might improve day-in/day-out, but won’t change end-of-season results…this team needs what Barry Trotz did in Washington.

tele_mon

Good gawd its game 6 of 82, and they’re 3 points out of a playoff spot… FIRE THE GM AND COACH!!! Settle down.

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